Thursday, October 23, 2008

the joys of being an expatriate

I had to drive into Los Angeles today because my passport expired. Up until a year ago, I could have just filled out a form, have all sorts of documents copied and notarized, and taken care of the whole enchilada by mail. What with all the newfangled technology available nowadays and all kinds of evildoers afoot, passports now require fingerprints. So unless you want to mail both your index fingers, you have to drive to LA (I kid. Nobody ever offered me that way to avoid the drive.). My googled directions claimed "55 minutes or up to 2 hours 30 minutes in traffic." Doesn't that sound like something you'd just LOVE to do with an infant?
I arrived at the consulate only 20 minutes late (conspiracy of traffic and parking spot unavailability) and with most of my sanity still intact, though no thanks to all the stopping and going and sudden breaking and deranged lane-changing-requirements JUST to stay on one freeway. Of course, my passport photos were rejected (and without those, fingerprints can't be entered into the system) as too small and too dark. Thankfully, there's a strip mall containing a generic mailboxes, etc. place right next to the consulate, so I didn't even get a chance to fall into the "if she can't do the fingerprints today, I'll have to come back next week" negative thought bog. The new pictures were "gut" in size and brightness (though for the next 10 years I'll have a nice reminder of the panda-like dark circles around my eyes), I got to pay my fee and postage for the passport to be fedexed to me in a few weeks, and left.
Noah slept on the way to the consulate (he went to sleep at 9:15 yesterday. PM. As in: two hours past his bedtime), cried while I searched for a parking spot, flirted with the lady who was helping me, nursed with only minor distraction issues after we were done, then fell asleep just as I was running a red light I overlooked trying not to miss the right freeway on-ramp. AMAZING!
The whole thing cost me a week's worth of sleep-robbing anxiety-slash-obsession (because oh, THE DRIVE! WITH AN INFANT! ALL THOSE DOCUMENTS I NEED!!! WHAT IF I DON'T GET IT RIGHT?!! GAH! NO!!!), a morning spent in the car, and around $150.
Thankfully, this passport doesn't expire until 2018, giving me a decade to recover from this trip.


Lauren S. said...


That gave me shivers. Just thank your lucky stars that Noah wasn't 18 months old when you had to do this. Oy!

Christina LMT said...

Thank goodness everything went (relatively) smoothly...and that you didn't get a ticket for running the red light!

Elaine said...

Just the thought of Noah being 10 when you have to do this next sent me sprawling on the floor next to my computer. Then I realized I'd have teenagers (yes, plural) by then and I passed clean out.

(PS my word verification code is "disessee"... what is google trying to tell me?)